There has been a lot of discussion lately among those who are thoughtful and look at evidence dispassionately about how to act towards our fellow citizens. That is because a lot of them seem to have lost their mind and are tearing down the civilization that supports their very existence. Am I being unchristian if I stand back and let them reap the rewards of their choices? Or should I try to help them, save them from themselves?
As I have tried to work my through to an answer to this problem, several things have become apparent:
- As far as I can tell, this all comes from the medieval concept of the “white knight”. He was the “true man” who intervened to save those in distress, especially damsels. He tried to save anyone in danger or need. They would see any available knight charging to their rescue.
- Jesus seemed to support that mindset with his argument In Matthew 5:43-45 where he said:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” This mirrors Luke 6:27-28.
Most people leave it there and say being a white knight is our duty as Christians. If only it were that simple.
If you closely examine the passages above what you see is a private: love- agape – self sacrifice for them and pray for them, ask God to intervene in their lives and change them from enemies to friends. When God causes the sun and rain to support life, both of the righteous and unrighteous, he is not specifically helping the unrighteous, just not denying them the common grace that he gives all humanity. In that respect, so should we. We should treat all people with the same common grace we would offer anyone. My business would sell to them and treat them with common dignity and respect as I would personally in common social interactions.
However, the difference comes in the particular not the general and this is where the facile argument of the compromised Christian falls apart. Recently, I have been paying attention to Proverbs 1:22 and 27-29. In those verses God addresses his response to specific actions, not the more general grace of sun and rain. He says:
“When calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.”
God addresses their failure to repent differently than than his general support through the common gift of nature’s sun and rain. He refuses to respond to their request, their pleas even. He goes so far as to hide himself from their searching.
I believe all Scripture is God’s inspired Word and cannot be in opposition to itself. So, what is the reconciliation between these two concepts? Well it is simply the difference between the general, as is usually called, common grace, given to all of us and is that which Jesus speaks of (God acts this way, so should we) and specific saving grace, which God does not give to everyone, even if they seek him in times of trouble. That is abundantly clear in the Proverbs passage.
They seek him because of the trouble, not because they are penitent and seek forgiveness. They want deliverance, not a renunciation of their previous choices and amendment of life, though on rare occasions that may be true. How does God respond to these requests for deliverance minus repentance? He closes his ears and hides himself. He leaves them to the consequences of their decisions.
With Proverbs in mind, I have come to the conclusion that it is no longer my responsibility to worry about or try to save these idiots from the consequences of their bad choices. Yes, I will always treat them with common human dignity. I will respect them in all of my dealings. However, when they seek rescue without repentance I will not respond. How can I, because if God refuses them, who am I to go against God. Who am I to attempt to do what the Lord of all will not? Wouldn’t I be standing against God to do so? As a result, I will bury forever the concept of the “white knight”. No longer will I try to save everyone. That is not my job. God has made that explicitly clear.
This whole train of thought comes from a posting on VOX POPOLI. The post is entitled The Rorschach Test. The comments are enlightening, especially the conclusion of the person who is the center of the story.